Mini ACV30 (1997)
When the Rover came under the control of BMW, the Germans focused their attention on the Land and Range Rover SUVs, and the passenger Rovers, despite the updated lineup, were slowly losing ground. However, British engineers believed in the coming of better times and even figured out what the next generation Mini would look like.
Interestingly, the same thought and in BMW. True, unlike Rover, the Bavarians saw the future of the brand for Mini, which produces driver’s premium cars with a retro design, and not mass popular small cars created according to the canons of Alec Issigonis. As a result (who would have doubted), a bet was made on the “German” Mini, and the ACV30 concept car became the first “swallow” of this project.
The ACV30 (which stands for Anniversary Concept Vehicle 30) was introduced in 1997, on the 30th anniversary of Mini’s triumph at the Monte Carlo Rally. Even then, its design showed features that the serial Mini Cooper would inherit in 2001: a pop-eyed face (the concept received the so-called Smiley Eyes that were found on BMWs of that time), plump arches, contrasting black pillars and a white roof. Designed by Adrian van Hooydonk, current head of BMW Group Design, and Frank Stevenson, the creator of the first new production Mini and supercars such as the Ferrari F430 and McLaren MP4-12C.
When creating the concept, the designers sought as close as possible to the rally car, so the ACV30 carries the famous contrasting white stripes, as well as a “chandelier” of additional lighting. Nevertheless, “rallying” was not limited to these attributes – take at least bucket seats with developed lateral support, an integrated roll cage, a Spartan interior.
However, the concept’s main rally reference was technical. But in this respect, the ACV30 was not close to its relative of 30 years ago, but to much younger cars of Group B. A trained eye will notice air intakes in the area of rear pillars of the car, and they appeared there for a reason – this kid had a mid-engine and rear-wheel drive layout in the manner of the Renault 5 Turbo.
Such an unusual scheme for the Mini was the result of the chassis donor chosen for the concept – it was the MGT mid-engined roadster, which was in good demand in the 90s. Its most powerful version, equipped with a 1.8-liter inline four with 160 horsepower, fell under the knife. Considering that the mass of the concept did not exceed a ton, it should have had excellent dynamics.
What happened next is well known. The reborn Mini was received with a bang and the brand is still being developed and sold. Sometimes Mini cars go to the start of the rally and even occasionally win, including in the Paris-Dakar marathon. Well, BMW sold Rover and Land Rover, which were unprofitable for itself, and their fate was very different – from death to prosperity.